Focus Areas

Our focus areas and core projects are designed to position the CIDC at the forefront of purposeful, tech-driven initiatives that achieve far-reaching regional and international impact

  • Building a strong foundation for democratic citizenship is essential to fostering active and informed participation in civic life. But it all starts with building a robust vision of democracy: its promise and possibilities. The CIDC leverages immersive technologies and online platforms to envision democracy’s promise, ensuring scalable and impactful civic education and community engagement.


    • The Advocacy Academy

      The Advocacy Academy is a pioneering initiative by the CIDC in collaboration with the Bulgarian Entrepreneurial Association and supported by the Center for International Private Enterprise. The program aims to build a community skilled in advocating for policy changes, focusing on civil servants, business leaders, and civil society. By training key actors in effective advocacy and engagement (cornerstones of democratic citizenship), the Advocacy Academy fosters active and informed participation in civic life. Through this initiative, the CIDC aspires to bolster participatory governance by facilitating constructive engagement between the state, the private sector, and civil society in legislative and policy advocacy.

    • Platform for Youth Dialogue and Participation

      The Platform for Youth Dialogue and Participation is a new collaborative effort between the American University in Bulgaria, and Sofia University, and funded by the German Marshall Fund of the United States. It aims to empower young individuals with an understanding of democratic principles and participatory governance. Targeting university and high school students, the project empowers young people to develop creative tools, products, and initiatives to promote democratic participation and civic engagement among their peers, families, and networks. By nurturing future leaders equipped with a profound grasp of democratic engagement, this initiative contributes to the strengthening of democratic institutions and practices in Bulgaria.

  • At the CIDC, our goal is to forge communities that can stand resilient in the face of disinformation and cognitive threats. Through research, policy advocacy, and educational programs, we aim to enhance media literacy and psychological resilience, equipping individuals and societies with the tools needed to effectively prevent and counter foreign information and malign influence operations.


    • Poynter Be MediaWise Bulgaria

      Implemented in partnership with Poynter and the Media Studies Department at AUBG, this project aims to equip citizens with media literacy skills to identify disinformation and engage securely in the information environment. The project particularly focuses on empowering young people to navigate the complexities of the modern information environment critically. Through workshops and peer-led educational activities, Be MediaWise Bulgaria seeks to equip individuals with the skills necessary to discern misinformation and engage responsibly in digital spaces, thus building resilience against disinformation.

  • We are committed to transdisciplinary approaches to unravel and address the complex challenges threatening democracy today. By promoting collaboration across academic disciplines, policymakers, and practitioners, and offering practical learning experiences to students, the CIDC seeks to cultivate a generation of leaders who are not only civically engaged and ethically grounded but also adept at navigating the digital landscape with integrity and foresight.


    • AI Aware Universities

      Sponsored by People Powered, the AI Aware Universities project seeks to formulate an inclusive strategy for the ethical deployment of AI within academic settings. By employing participatory policymaking and citizens’ assemblies, the project engages university stakeholders in critical deliberations on harnessing AI's potential while safeguarding academic integrity. Implemented in collaboration with five partner universities in Europe, this project approach aims to set a benchmark for responsible AI use in higher education, promoting ethical standards and digital literacy. The project embodies a transdisciplinary approach by combining technology, ethics, and participatory democracy in addressing the complex challenges of AI in academia and fostering ethical discourse in digital innovation.

    • Summer School in Bulgaria: Politics in a Democracy Under Stress

      This program facilitates discussions on challenges faced by democratic regimes, focusing on Bulgaria. The inaugural session of Bulgaria Exchange: Politics in a Democracy Under Stress, a collaborative initiative by the CIDC and Georgetown University's Democracy and Governance Program, offers a critical examination of the challenges confronting democratic systems. This intensive program facilitates a nuanced discourse on the resilience and adaptability of democracies in the face of contemporary political, social, economic, and technological pressures. Through this yearly program, the CIDC aims to equip participants with the analytical tools and perspectives necessary to navigate and contribute to the strengthening of democratic governance particularly in democracies under stress.

  • Recognizing the global nature of digital challenges to democracy, the CIDC is dedicated to building international partnerships and facilitating student and faculty exchange programs. We aim to foster a rich, diverse dialogue on democracy in the digital age, implementing cross-cultural initiatives that deepen understanding and strengthen a global commitment to defending democratic values.


    • Balkan Youth Thinkathon

      The Balkan Youth Thinkathon, implemented by the CIDC in partnership with the Department of Politics and European Studies at AUBG and supported by NATO's Public Diplomacy Division, is designed to foster meaningful dialogue among Balkan youth on NATO's role and priorities. This immersive program combines theoretical insights with practical exercises to deepen participants' understanding of NATO and enhance their capacity to engage in informed discourse on security and cooperation. Through mentorship and collaborative activities, the Balkan Youth Thinkathon cultivates a generation of informed citizens poised to contribute to regional and global peace and stability.

    • Worldwide Climate and Justice Education Week

      The CIDC is collaborating with Bard College in the US and the Open Society University Network (OSUN) to increase awareness and participation in the Climate and Justice Education Week across Europe. Working with key stakeholders, the CIDC builds support for the Worldwide Climate and Justice Education Week among scientific and educational institutions in Europe. A key activity includes organizing a virtual mini-conference for European Climate Change Educators, aiming to recruit participants and catalyze a continent-wide movement towards integrating climate justice into academic discourse and action.

  • Factual media is a critical component of democracy and informed citizenship. By leveraging innovative technologies, we seek to empower individuals and media organizations regionally and globally with the skills and tools needed to critically evaluate information and news content and contribute to a more informed public discourse. The CIDC’s Factual media advocacy initiatives address the critical need for reliable information.


    • English for Journalists

      This program offers English language courses tailored for Bulgarian journalists, aiming to enhance their professional development and acquaint them with media trends. It seeks to strengthen the role of factual media in informing public discourse. Implemented in collaboration with the English Language Institute at the American University in Bulgaria and with funding from the US Embassy in Bulgaria, this program equips journalists with advanced linguistic skills and a comprehensive awareness of contemporary media dynamics. The initiative underscores the CIDC’s commitment to fostering a well-informed media landscape capable of strengthening democracy.

  • Faculty and students are the bedrock of AUBG. The CIDC will provide the tools and means to support, expand, and scale up faculty and student-led initiatives that enhance the academic environment and foster innovation.


    • Civic Engagement Fund

      The Civic Engagement Fund is a joint venture between the CIDC and the Dean of Students Office at the American University in Bulgaria, made possible through a generous donation by Julia Watkins and the OSUN Civic Engagement Block Grant from Bard College. This fund is dedicated to supporting a spectrum of student-led initiatives that span educational outreach, community service, and professional development. By providing financial backing for projects that embody civic values and contribute to societal well-being, the fund plays a pivotal role in fostering a vibrant academic and civic culture within the AUBG community.

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